Power poses

Another TED talk. Fake it to make it, she says: if you adopt confident poses, you become confident, but first you appear confident to others. Just two minutes in a power pose creates an effect lasting an hour after.

OK, try it. I sit up straight, with my spine curved forwards in a healthy position. My feet are flat on the floor, my forearms resting on the arms of the chair. My head is up. I am relaxed and comfortable, taking my space in the room. And a few moments later, I am curled up, shoulders hunched, face to the wall, hand on my neck. Touching the neck is a passive and submissive pose. For a long time I had the habit of nodding my head forward and scratching the back of my neck. I am alone. Why is this submissive pose the position I adopt? It feels better- why?

Next morning (16th) at Meeting I feel assailed by the holiness of the room. I walk into the meeting room, and it feels different from the hallway. In the dojo, I would bow on entering, and in an Anglican church I would curtsey to the communion table, and here I have no gesture I can make to acknowledge Spirit, no ritual to make everything alright. Instead I sit, marvelling that I may be in such a place. I say that in Ministry, though with my cold I find myself speaking quietly and huskily.

First I sit with my spine erect, hands folded on my lap, and then think again of the power poses. I rest my right arm on the arm rest. This is a more expanded position, and hands on knees (slightly apart under my calf-length skirt) is stronger than hands folded. I take up this position, and in a moment find myself, legs and arms crossed, hunched over as if protecting myself, my hand on my neck.

I could label this. Our species has a pecking order, and this is Dalit pose- is it “innate”? Is it adopted- when? I am not a confident person: which came first, the pose or the confidence-level? Fake it to make it, says Amy Cuddy, you can produce an immediate transient effect by two minutes, and a permanent effect by continuing practice. But when I find myself touching my neck, it feels as if I am “really” stretching it, or it has an itch needing scratched, or even that I enjoy the sensation of my fingers touching my mouth. Do I really want to be submissive? There is no-one to submit to, at the moment.

All I can say is, it is. There is a resistance in me to standing like Wonder Woman. If I try it I find myself in my most submissive poses as soon as I relax my conscious attention.

4 thoughts on “Power poses

  1. Yes, body language. It speaks volumes and your awareness of it allows you to make choices. I find that I also want to choose my clothing on days when I’m feeling less confident – something in red or something that I feel especially good in. It brightens my day. Great post, Clare. Hugs, Cathy


    • (((((((((hugs))))))))

      Rather than choosing a pose, hands on hips or whatever, it may be that visualising Qi enables me to relax and expand more naturally. The thought

      I am a being of Light

      delights me, and may help me come out of submissive poses. It is connected to awareness and distinct from that rational calculation of how I ought to be.

      And I have got in some fun pictures, different from my normal High Culture.


  2. Hmm, yes. Power poses. I’m rubbish at those. Start out well, but end up in defensive poses, fending off the obnoxious posturing alpha types. But as a martial artist you know how a submissive posture can draw in an attack, which one’s quietly superior Kung Fu can neutralise? I’m with you on the visualising Qi and expanding naturally. It freaks the power posers out when they meet someone who is innately calm.


    • Yes. The question for both is how to inculcate the habit of standing powerfully- I do not find that thinking about how I stand for a moment achieves that, because I go back to old ways of standing. So I shift to thoughts which might help me stand that way. Those might be, what do I have to be confident about?


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